Alli Ortega Empty Bowls

Through the generosity of neighbors, participation of partners, and innovation in the arts, we believe relief from hunger is possible. The Alli Ortega Empty Bowls is a unique program that combines the arts, community partnership, and civic engagement that benefits hundreds of Scottsdale families and seniors by providing food, school supplies, healthy lunches, necessary supplies, and general assistance. Every year, Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation delivers arts-integrated workshops that teach students not only the artistic skill of creating a bowl, but also the civic responsibility of caring for our community.  

Through the generosity of neighbors, participation of partners, and innovation in the arts, we believe relief from hunger is possible. The Alli Ortega Empty Bowls is a unique program that combines the arts, community partnership, and civic engagement that benefits hundreds of Scottsdale families and seniors by providing food, school supplies, healthy lunches, necessary supplies, and general assistance. Every year, Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation delivers arts-integrated workshops that teach students not only the artistic skill of creating a bowl, but also the civic responsibility of caring for our community.  

As a precaution for the safety of our community the Alli Ortega Empty Bowls with Scottsdale Community Partners will instead hold this fundraiser online with the hopes of returning to its beloved original format in 2023. Scottsdale Community Partners is honored to have City of Scottsdale Mayor, David Ortega, as a passionate supporter of this event. His late daughter, Alli Ortega, was a significant force behind the success of the event while she was an art teacher and it was renamed after her to honor her memory. 

To learn more, visit https:   www.scpaz.org/empty-bowls

Empty Bowls Program History 

In the early 1990s, Janet Blum, a visual arts teacher at Coronado High School, created a partnership between her afterschool art club and Scottsdale Community Partners founder Francis Young, Vista del Camino, and the Paiute Neighborhood Center as a way of involving the students in their community and planning how they can give back. The student’s passion for philanthropy inspired them to bring the international Empty Bowls fundraising program established by Michigan art teachers Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom to their school to support the Vista del Camino Food Bank. The students would make ceramic bowls and partner with a local vendor to fill the bowls with food and sell them at the event. Attendees contribute by purchasing an artist’s handmade bowl which represents those that go hungry each day. Meals are provided and guests celebrate making a difference in their community. Thirty years later, several of the original students and their families still support this event. 

A local Scottsdale resident Alexandra “Alli” Ortega worked as a recreation leader at the Paiute Center as a beloved youth mentor. In April 2014, at the age of 31, Ortega passed away unexpectedly due to complications from surgery. Her kind heart and giving nature are honored every year through the Alli Ortega Scottsdale Empty Bowls fundraiser. 

Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation—a branch of Scottsdale Arts—provides artist residency workshops in Paradise Valley School District and Scottsdale School District classrooms at Scottsdale Senior Citizen Centers, Vista del Camino, and Delta Kappa Gamma Women Educators meetings. 

Empty Bowls is a true Scottsdale partnership; partner organizations include the city of Scottsdale mayor’s office and city council, Scottsdale Community College, Scottsdale Unified School District, Paradise Valley Unified School District, Scottsdale Community Partners, and Scottsdale Arts.